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Prevenge (Movie Review)

Prevenge (Movie Review)
03.23.2017by: Jake Dee
7 10

PLOT: In coping with her grievous past, a very pregnant mother-to-be begins taking murderous orders from a voice emanating from her womb.

REVIEW: Alice Lowe, English actress cum writer/director who you might recognize from various collaborations with fellow filmmaking Brit Ben Wheatley (KILL LIST, SIGHTSEERS), has keenly stored enough industry info over of the years to aptly deliver a personal labor of love in PREVENGE – a maternally murderous metaphor for motherhood, specifically the volatile cocktail of blending grief with the raging hormones of pregnancy. Pitched with a dry and dark, wryly stark sense of bleak humor, PREVENGE charts a maniacal mother’s undeterred path to provide her unborn child with everything it wants and needs, even if it costs the livelihoods of others, most profoundly the mother’s very own. While far from perfect, while certainly hampered by the lack of time and money, for a feature debut shot in only 11 days, PREVENGE overcomes the odds to get a lot right!

Ruth (Lowe), a single mother to be, is seven months pregnant. Her partner Matt (Marc Bessant), we later learn, suffered a horrific rock climbing accident that has put him out of the picture for good. With the swirling cauldron of emotion derived from raging prenatal hormones, the grief of losing a loved one, the lack of sleep, the stress of upcoming parenthood, etc. all bubbling to a head – Ruth begins hearing voices she believes to be coming from the projected voice of her unborn baby. Shrugging them off at first, the dastardly directives become more compelling and harder to ignore. Soon Ruth makes various neighborhood rounds – to the local pet shop, pub, doctor’s office, etc. During one such instance, Ruth meets up with a hefty dude named DJ Dan (Tom Davis), who takes her back to his mother’s pad for a shag. Only thing, the way in which he gets his nuts off isn’t quite what he had in mind!

With her first taste of blood comes a predictable penchant for more. An episodic comedy of horrors ensues, one of which includes a former beau named Zac (Tom Meeten) and his overly polite flat-mate Josh (Mike Wozniak). This serves as the sort of pinnacle centerpiece where the deft blend of brutal violence and awkward humor converge most proportionally. It does no good to give away the particulars, but the issue I have with this scene is one I find a macro indictment of the picture as a whole. And that is, there’s never a clearly defined line of good and evil drawn between the innocent Ruth and baleful her baby. That is, what should be the primary point of conflict – the baby wants her mother to kill, the mother does not – isn’t given the requisite push-and-pull of morality needed to make for a truly dramatic conundrum. Ruth simply seems too apathetic, almost all too willing to go along with the maniacal mandates her baby implores. The battle of wills between the two isn’t pitted equally. Had it been, had Ruth been deadest against her baby’s odious orders, I’m willing to bet the humor would strike even harder, which, symbiotically, would in turn give the horror a sharper bite.

But this very fuzziness of motive can also be applied, quite favorably I think, to the metaphor the movie is making. Hear me out. By not pounding you over the head with its allegory, by instead hinting at what can essentially be read as a grand allegory for the volatile emotions of pregnancy, the subtlety of the message is made all the more powerful. That is, such an analogy is there to be read if you choose to see it as such, but in no way does this stance block or distract from the driving plot-narrative. Despite a few line utterances, there’s never a large expositional soliloquy meant to explain the extremity of the situation and how it relates to the emotional state of impending motherhood. That said, the undeniable strength of PREVENGE is in the power of its premise. The mere notion of a woman’s unborn baby overtaking its mother’s body on behalf of murdering strangers is flat out ludicrous, knowingly so, and can only be responded to as such. There’s an underlying silliness to the whole movie that, no matter how dark the humor or nasty the violence becomes, keeps the overall tone lightly entertaining.

So as a drolly satirical slasher, PREVENGE prevails. It pokes good fun at the fearful nature of bearing life, doing so to the gorily ironic extremity of taking life. Its conceit is clever in that way, drawing emotional parallels between two organic processes that are equally gruesome and viscerally violent. The result is a mordantly comic, maternally disturbed morass of madness. I just wish there’d been a clearer, more delineated line of good and evil drawn between the carried and the carrier. But despite the drab, low-rent production value most of the way through, Alice Lowe proves she’s not only one to watch as an actress in front of the camera, she’s also a talent to keep an eye on behind it as well. If the movie happens to be rolling into your select city this weekend, abort all plans and treat yourself to a little PREVENGE!

Extra Tidbit: PREVENGE hits select theaters March 24th.
Source: AITH

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